Friday, May 17, 2013

Call Me Crazy

I can be a bit of a contrarian. But in a good way. I root for the underdog, play devil's advocate and try to assume good motives on the part of others. Sometimes, though, I'm just plain weird.

Take, for example, our house. We bought it nearly three years ago. It's lovely. High ceilings, lots of windows, gorgeous landscaping. It seemed to be a big step "up" from our old house - both in square footage and prestige. It is in a "high-demand" subdivision, where homes often sell within days of listing. The thing is, we weren't really in need of more square footage and prestige is not something that matters to us.

So, you may ask, why did we move?

We moved for different schools, because we didn't feel the school system we were in was serving our children well. Private schools didn't appeal to us because the thought of paying tuition on top of the very high property taxes in our community seemed ludicrous. We felt (and still feel) that supporting local public schools is the right thing to do for us. (No judgment here for those who make other choices; every family is different!)

We moved for green space and a less urban atmosphere. I love to garden and in our tiny urban back yard I had thriving blackberries, raspberries and blueberries, and three 16 square-foot raised beds. We had installed rain barrels and a clothes line. I anticipated even more of the same at our new house.

We moved for more privacy. At our old house, we had neighbors so close on one side that we could smell their cigarette smoke and hear them arguing in Serbian, even in the winter time. From the other side, we could hear the high-pitched yaps of a lonely lap dog through two sets of closed windows all day long.

We knew we were giving up walkability and some truly wonderful neighbors. We knew we would miss the eclectic personality of our neighborhood.

We were enchanted by the woods behind the house, the koi pond with the waterfall, the pool in the neighborhood. The house was so spacious, so new, so grand.

We didn't know that we would be one of a very small number of folks without lawn services to manicure each edge and bed. Or that we would be one of the few to eschew pesticides and herbicides on our lawn, so that our friendly yellow dandelions would stick out like hillbillies at a society cotillion.  Or that we would plant the only Obama sign on the street. Or that clotheslines are prohibited by the HOA. Or that our entire backyard, lovely as it is, is entirely shaded and gardens are prohibited in front yards by the HOA.

We never guessed that our house would feel too big; be just too much - too much to decorate, to accessorize, to furnish, to clean and maintain. As we made plans to update and decorate, we realized that this just isn't the right place for us.  We will never be able to live the life we really want to live in this house. It doesn't feel like "us". It's weighing us down. We want to simplify and own less stuff so that we can have more experiences with our girls before they are all grown up and gone.

And so we are on the move again. This time to a smaller house with fewer rules. Less stuff, more fun. Call me crazy.

Monday, May 13, 2013

A Trip Around the Sun

I have been so dreading the coming of May.

This time last year I was numb with grief and by the end of the month, I was sick, exhausted and numb. I had one kid with pneumonia and one with a broken foot. Hombre had bronchitis and so did I. Dirty laundry had reached a never before seen high water mark and funeral flowers filled the house.

I made up my mind.  I declared it "The Summer of Fun." And so it was. For the most part. Father's Day, full of memories, came and went, along with 4th of July fireworks and swim meets. I felt Mom and Dad's  absence keenly.

We wisely went ahead with our Great American Road Trip, which turned out to be the best possible salve for an aching heart. 

We celebrated new babies, weddings and engagements. We made new memories and resisted the urge to pick up the phone to share our good news with Mom and Dad.

Somehow it was time for school again; mornings cool and misty, evenings a wee bit crisp.  No one to call with the annual first day of school report.

Leaves began to change colors like middle aged women adopting vivid hair color to distract from their aging faces. Almost too brassy, but so striking you can't look away. Mom's favorite season.

We picked apples and grapes; canned applesauce and grape jam. We ordered fire wood and raked leaves. Celebrated birthdays and anniversaries. Some of us pierced our noses.

We toasted them at Thanksgiving, their absence too obvious to be ignored.

We wondered what Christmas would be like without them. We discovered, like the Grinch did, that nothing can stop Christmas from coming.

Our family gathered, in large numbers, as it always has and laughed and talked and ate and drank;  missed them and thanked them for having taught us to value the precious time spent with each other.

The busyness of clubs and teams and scouts shuttled us through January and February.

With March came Mom's birthday; with April, Dad's. Last year's birthday celebrations had been tinted blue, since we knew then that they'd likely never see another. And yet we had celebrated.

April brought us crocuses, daffodils and then tulips. Forsythia and crab apple dressed for the prom, flouncing in the breeze. The trees exhaled green mist and then it was May.

It had arrived in all its dewy beauty, just like last year. The fresh prettiness that had been like a slap in the face of my sorrow last year seems so joyful this year.

There is no keeping these seasons at bay. Come they will and with them the memories.  But each year adds another layer of memories, happy and sad, slowly building the mural of a life.